US attorney general Sessions clashes with Democrats, dodges Trump questions at Senate

Following the heated exchange with Wyden, Sessions repeatedly said he was not aware of any undisclosed meetings between Trump campaign officials and the Russian government.

Sessions repeated that he did not hold an undisclosed meeting with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak at a speech by then-candidate Trump at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington past year.

But he denied an alleged third encounter with Kislyak, at an April 27, 2016 reception for Trump at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington. Pressed on this by senators on the Intelligence committee, Sessions pointed out that his recommendation to Trump on Comey was based in turn on a recommendation from Rosenstein. Mr. Trump acknowledged the sacking was motivated in part by the FBI's Russian Federation probe.

Sessions became visibly angry when asked about former FBI Director James Comey's testimony last week that aspects of the attorney general's recusal were problematic.

Asked about Trump's own contention that the president fired Comey with the Russian Federation probe in mind, and regardless of any recommendation from anyone else, Sessions said: "I guess I'll just have to let his words speak for themselves". A senior Republican staffer was reportedly incredulous when asked whether Sessions thought of himself as a foreign policy specialist and met regularly with ambassadors while he was a senator. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., right, with Sen.

The Attorney General said that if Harris didn't allow him to fully answer her question "you'll accuse me of lying".

"I am following historic policies of Department of Justice", Sessions continued.

"I can assure you that none of those meetings discussed manipulating the campaigns of the United States in any way, shape, or form". When asked about a letter he wrote recommending firing former FBI Director James Comey, Rosenstein said that Mueller could be looking into the decision-making process for the firing - and he was therefore "not at liberty to talk about that now".

During Comey's June 8 appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee, he accused Trump of telling "lies, plain and simple", as quoted by The New York Times.

Harris tried to shorten Sessions' lengthy and seemingly unclear answers to her questions, which resulted in him bristling and issuing strong words. But our attorney general, who is the top law enforcement official in the country, and the rest of the Trump administration seem unconcerned by that disturbing truth.

"As such, I have no knowledge about this investigation beyond what has been publicly reported, and I have taken no action with regard to any such investigation", he said.

Sessions was adamant that he did not have a private meeting with Kislyak at that event. "We are not in a position to comment further".

Sessions also said he never had any private meetings or conversations with Russian officials regarding the presidential election. Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-N.C.) then jumped into the conversation and told Harris to let Sessions speak. She also said that because of the revelation that Sessions misled the Senate during his testimony, she called on him to resign.

Eventually he conceded that he didn't want to reveal what the President had said, in case Mr Trump decides later to invoke executive privilege to keep those conversations under wraps. But Sessions' lack of any briefing on Russian election meddling raises the question of who is in charge of preventing a state-sponsored cyber attack.

  • Zachary Reyes